The first thing that drew me to this story was the cover. Not just because it had a pretty girl on it, but the the feeling of vibrancy and life that it portrayed hooked me right in. It took me right back to the first time I ever say a punk and the feeling of wonder it engendered. That’s a good start.
I found the layout of this book a little different and strange to read at first, but I soon got in to it. If you break the book down it is written as a series of short events seen from the perspective of several people. This breaks up the narrative and switches the voice at sometimes dizzyingly frequent intervals to really give you a feel of anarchy. Where I thought it was particularly clever was that the only long sections in this book are by characters who are off their nuts on ecstasy. If you’I liked the fact that the heavy downsides of the drug use were shown. I never touched Ecstasy, but I saw how it screwed up a lot of people and led them down some pretty dark paths.
The story follows a group of friends that meet on their first day at secondary school. I found myself instantly taken back to that time in my life, back to when I had such a laugh. Not just the good times though, I thought back to how crap we all treated each other. I guess they are called our formative years for a reason and in this story there are some pretty wild stories of those days. The scary thing is that most of them I can think of an almost direct match for from my own school days. As the book carries on the lives of the main characters stall and do not really go very far. Sound familiar? I’m fairly sure most of us can relate to the inertia that the characters felt as they hit twenty. Some people carried on doing the drink and drugs whilst doing a dead end job and others pulled out of the funk to try and make something of their lives. You can probably guess which category our main characters fall in to. The ending was a bit of a shock and really framed the whole piece for me.
Overall I enjoyed this book but did feel it dragging me down in to a depressive state at several points, it really did feel that much like a true coming of age story. I’m a little too young to directly relate to some of the things in this book but I think I got most of the references of the time. If you were born before 1970 you will probably get a little bit more out of some things (like Mule Train for instance).